Friday, May 15, 2009
My New Orleans French Life
I have been in New Orleans for nearly ten years, and I am still enchanted.
One of the first things that captivated me was the relationship of New Orleans with so many French things.
Of course French history runs deep here, and after 300 years you still see little pieces of France in everyday life.
I would love for Vicki Archer and Carla Coulson to come to New Orleans and do a book about us, perhaps another version of their fabulous book "My French Life".
The city was originally laid out on the French plan, a grid of streets that still exists in the French Quarter. At one point all the houses faced the Mississippi River. But after a few major fires, and a change in governments, the houses were built with the fronts facing the street.
So many buildings are Paris inspired. Like the Pontalba Apartments that are modeled after the Place de Voges, built by a woman in the 1800's, the Baroness Pontalba.
Across the street is the oldest coffee stand in The USA, Cafe Du Monde, famous for beignets and Cafe Au Lait.
New Orleans is one of the few cities in the USA to have a French Consul living and working here. This is the French Consul's home in The Garden District.
The French Consul and his family live here. It's a lovely old house, but the public rooms are in dire need of redecorating. I think an important site like this should have the best New Orleans has to offer. There are so many gorgeous French antiques here, and designers who would be proud to lend a hand.
I would love to organize an effort to do a show house at the residence of the French Consul, with all the furnishings donated by the people of New Orleans.
One of the only standing buildings left that was built by the original French regime, is The Ursuline Convent. It's front still faces the River.
The classic proportions of the architecture and French style gardens truly look Parisian.
Of course St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square is about as French as you can get.
The Cathedral is flanked on one side by The Cabildo and on the other side by The Presbytere on Jackson Square, which is a classic European arrangement.
The French Market has been in existence since the beginnings of New Orleans, and this little archway is very much like a mini-me Arc de Triomphe.
The Napoleon House is called so, because the owner had prepared it for Napoleon for the Emperor's planned escape from his exile and imprisonment. Sadly The Little Emperor never made it, but he is fondly remembered in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a tremendous gilded statue of Joan of Arc.
This is an old court building that could be a Hausmann style building in Paris.
And of course the fleur de lis is everywhere here.
We also have The Degas House, where the artist and his family lived.
One of my favorite restaurants is La Crepe Nanou, Uptown New Orleans, but so very Parisian.
There are many French restaurants and bakeries, and La Boulangerie is one of the best.
So how about it Vicki and Carla? I know you'll have a great time in New Orleans, and make a wonderful book about it!